A few years ago, I made my first raisin challah. My family was coming to my house for Rosh Hashanah and I wanted homemade challah to be a part of the meal. I followed Tori Avey’s recipe, watched a video on braiding techniques, and was thrilled when my golden round challah came out of the oven. I set it out to cool and snapped a few pictures on my phone, knowing that like with all baked goods this was an ephemeral beauty.
But I had forgotten to buy one of the tzimmes ingredients. Maybe the prunes? I don’t remember exactly what I was after that day as I headed out to the local grocery store, but I do remember running into my neighbor near the apples. She was also doing some last-minute Rosh Hashanah shopping. We chatted and compared notes about who was coming over to our houses and what we planned to cook.
Then as the conversation moved to challah, we pulled out our phones. Like proud parents showing off our children, we scrolled through the pictures--except that we were showing off our challahs. We praised the merits of each of our loaves, laughed, then wished each other shanah tovah before parting ways.
As I walked home that day, prunes in hand, I was struck by this exchange. I loved that my neighbor and I had both baked beautiful challahs. I loved that we were both proud about it. And I loved that this had occurred two blocks from my home. Few times had I experienced something quite so shtetl-like--or at least how I imagine it--a moment when my Jewish cultural heritage was a spontaneous part of the place where I live.
For the last few years, my neighbor and I have a Rosh Hashanah tradition. We swap our Rosh Hashanah challah photos to wish each other a happy new year.
It is this kind of celebration that Candleschtick focuses on, too. Through our kitschy designs and warm Yiddish humor, we find light and fun ways to enjoy Jewish culture in our contemporary lives.
Shanah Tovah from Candleschtick! Send us your challah baby pictures--we'd love to see them!